I knew a man once. His name was John Smith and he loved a woman called Rose. Now he wasn't the best looking guy in the village, tho' he was a good-looking lad. No, the best looking lad in the village was a man called Rhys and he was a blacksmith. In those days everyone went by horse around there - cars weren't any use for the terrain. So Rhys was a well off man, what with shoeing the horses and making iron gates and the like. What could our John do?
He was the best singer in the choir. He had a voice like Gabriel's trumpet, low and soft and mellow, but could rise to a thunder if required. Other than that, he worked for the Post Office, which was respectable but not likely to make him rich. Both men loved Rose - what was there not to love?
A tall, trim figure, long black hair, pale clear complexions and two dangerous blue pools for eyes that could drown a man. Many was the man who desired Rose and knew she was not for them. Many was the woman who did not care for Rose because she was such a beauty. Rose herself, liked the attention the boys gave her, who would not, but she kept a level head and always said that her favourite male after her dad was her dog, Buster.
One morning, John got himself up and went out with a cushion in his bag. He went up over the hill and along to where a stream trickled. There were rocks leading down to the path that led to the stream and on one of these rocks, John took out the cushion, placed it on the rock and sat. For a moment he took in the quiet of the morning. The stream trickled and the birds woke up, but otherwise it was quiet. He began by singing the scales and then a hymn he had learned as a boy. Then with a soft sweet voice, he sang a song about Rose. A love song in which the lover tells of his love for a woman who cares nothing for him. The sounds rose up like scented smoke, curling around the trees and hiding themselves amid the leaves. The birds stopped their singing and the stream hushed itself. When he had finished, he heard a sigh and turning saw an old woman sitting on a rock at the other side of the stream.
"Good morning to you grandmother," he said.
"And to yourself John. That was a lovely song for the morning," she said kindly.
John thanked her and sang another about how time passes and all that lives must fade. The old woman chuckled and asked him what he wanted most in all the world. John had to think about that, but he finally spoke and said that he wanted the true love of Rose, the kindness of her dog and a home to call their own.
"Will you not have wealth and fame for your lovely voice?" the old woman asked him.
"I have a job, grandmother. Not much of a one perhaps, but I have a job nonetheless. Besides, I would miss the choir," he answered.
"Hum," said she.
He began to sing another love song and at one point he must have shut his eyes to concentrate, for when he opened his eyes, the old lady had gone. Well, it was getting on then, so he took the cushion and hurried off to the Post Office to work. It happened that after some time, he was noticed as a fine singer and offered a place in a bigger choir. From there he went on to become a great opera singer, singing in all the great operatic roles in the world. He became both rich and famous for his voice, but every so often he would disappear and nobody knew where he went. I'll tell you.
He would return home to his village and sing in the choir. In the mornings he would go to the rock, place the cushion on the rock on the other side of the stream and sing to an old lady. In the evenings tho' he would go courting Rose and her dog. He would bring them both presents and sometimes in the parlour of her father's little house, he would sing to her.
One day after a great opera had ended its run in Sydney, he announced his retirement from singing. He had bought a home near his village and went home to Rose and Buster. He married Rose who loved him truly and Rhys married a girl from the city who loved his muscles and his money.
As for the mysterious old lady, nobody knows what became of her.